Scott Boras, the most famous agent in baseball and the man who represents Bryce Harper, held his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, and as he quipped himself, “Bryce dominated the conversation” this year.
It’s no surprise, considering Harper’s stature within the game, his impressive resume as a 26-year old free agent, and his long-rumored desire to become the highest-paid player in baseball history.
As someone trying to maximize Harper’s next contract, Boras was sure to refer to the star outfielder in glowing terms.
Historic. Generational. Iconic.
These adjectives are to be expected from an agent in Boras’ position. And, of course, Boras made all the right comments about Harper being open to multiple teams. The more bidders, the higher the bidding goes.
Harper taking such an interest in the business side of things was unexpected from many organizations, though.
“We’ve delivered literally well over two to three thousand pages of information to Bryce through this process. He’s a great student of the game,” Boras told members of the media on Wednesday. “[In meetings] They’re shocked about his understanding of the business model, franchise value, he’s very adept.”
Harper is making it a point to consider a multitude of factors during the biggest decision of his life. It’s a choice he’ll have to live with for years, and he is considering more than just money. Clearly, he’s taking the long view over a short-term outlook.
Boras even confirmed that their team was looking at farm systems for Harper’s respective suitors, to help envision where each franchise is headed and his client’s role within each organization. And again, Harper has been determined to be a part of this evaluation process.
“We’ve given Bryce exhaustive reviews of every organization, he’s very studied of each, his evaluation when looking at it. He’s been very active in our dialogues discussing this with teams.”
Boras also acknowledged Mark Lerner’s earlier comments about the Nationals being discouraged about potentially bringing back Harper, though he was quick to emphasize that when GM Mike Rizzo says the door remains open, that fans and the media should pay attention.
The Yankees are another potential suitor whose recent comments have led fans to believe they may be out of the running, but Boras made it clear that Harper is still considering several franchises.
“Any free agent has goals about family and their value and the organization they play for. Bryce is open to a lot of different venues, it’s really about the owner’s commitment and what they want to do long term,” Boras told reporters.
“I think Bryce is open to geography, what he’s looking for is ownership to make sure he has every opportunity to achieve his goals. Win a world championship, play on competitive teams every year, as best as teams can be competitive annually in today’s game, and a lot of owners believe their franchise can do that.”
The question is, does Harper believe these franchises can do it? Does he believe the Nationals can?
Boras, Harper and the Nationals have a great relationship according to the agent. And each party has a clear understanding of the other. It would certainly seem like Washington is still in the running to ink Harper, though that can be said of several different teams at this point. Not every team is operating publicly, either.
“This is not a race where every car is labeled. A lot of people want to keep what they’re doing private,” Boras explained. “Some clubs are more open and direct about what they’re doing, some clubs want a private process.”
The proverbial “mystery team” appears to very much still be in play here, and there’s no real timeline for when the decision will be made. Boras implied something could be one or two meetings away from happening, or that they could be weeks or even months away from finalizing a deal.
Wherever he ends up, Boras is confident Bryce will make a major impact, both with his play on the field and the interest he’ll drum up among the fanbase. He’s also a big believer in Harper’s presence in the clubhouse, even as a player not yet in his prime.
When asked about Harper’s leadership abilities, Boras suggested to a reporter that “maybe you should call Juan Soto and ask him about that.”
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